Old Dawn School

Old Dawn School

The Old Dawn School, also known as School #4, is one of a group of schools built for African American students in the late 19th-early 20th centuries in the African American Community of Duval, also known as Dawn, in southern Caroline County. The school’s decorative elements, including wide, boxed overhangs, exceptionally large windows, interior molding, and a hipped roof; reveals that it was built with abundant care and skill.

The Old Dawn School was built about 1899. One of four places of learning in the area for descendants of people who were enslaved at nearby North Wales and Meadow plantations.

Work to preserve the school has garnered a lot of recent media attention, including a segment on Richmond CBS 6, an article in the Washington Post, and a segment on ABC World News with David Muir. The school will also be featured in an upcoming Richmond Magazine article.

The Old Dawn School likely served to educate students of the community until the 1950s-60s, when the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka found that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional. The Old Dawn School was later used as a dwelling until the 1980s; but has silently stood in a wooded area of Caroline County for over 40 years.

Immediate plans for the Old Dawn School are to install a temporary tarp over the roof, and secure the building to prevent further deterioration from the weather.

If you want to make a donation to the Old Dawn School, go to the Preservation Virginia website donation page at https://preservationvirginia.org/support/donate/. Under “Gift Donation Option” select “Yes” and a window opens, which will allow you to name the honoree. Type in “Old Dawn School” and we will know this is a designated gift for the school. If you are sending a check just write “Old Dawn School” in the memo line of your check. All gifts $60 and over qualify for membership to Preservation Virginia as well.